Sunday, January 17, 2010

KFW Artist Enrichment Grant

We are pleased to formally announce that our project was recently awarded an Artist Enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women (KFW), whose "mission is to promote positive social change by supporting varied feminist expression in the arts." This is the long-awaited prospect that I've been alluding to for a while, and we can now officially share our good news! 

The KFW Hot-Flash e-newsletter included a short blurb about all of the Artist Enrichment recipients and their projects: "Tammy Clemons and Timi Reedy ... to support a documentary project about bluegrass musicians Frances and John Reedy, focusing on Frances’ musicianship, songwriting and lead vocal talent. The project will strengthen the applicants’ collaboration and filmmaking skills, help them develop a collective artistic vision and expand their experience as grassroots Appalachian activists."

It's not clear whether a wide-range press release has gone out yet, but interestingly, I found a press release about another recipient that includes a reference to our award alongside that of Elizabeth Barret from Appalshop. We're extremely honored to be included among such distinguished feminist artists and activists that KFW has long-supported and promoted. 

It's also important that our project is recognized as a consciously feminist endeavor. The Artist Enrichment proposal process was very insightful and helped us articulate the core feminist component of not only this project but all of our work.* 

Feminist Understanding, Practice and Nature of Artwork
Our primary understanding and practice of feminism, in everyday life and artistic creation, is the holistic philosophy of ecofeminism, which recognizes the interdependence of all life, the interconnection of all forms of human oppression, and the the relationship between the domination of both humans and the environment. The most concrete example of ecofeminist sustainability as well as art in our lives is the homestead we have created over the past 12 years. Much of our time and energy has been spent planning and building our house (which was under construction for about five years, two of which we lived in it amidst its unfolding).

All stages of the process were informed by extensive research in sustainability practices, and the solar dome that we built with our community's help is an inspiring sculpture that comprises numerous aesthetic layers and patterns and represents ecofeminist solidarity. Our house-building process has been our primary focus, but we have consciously approached its construction in light of its interdependence with the ecosystem. As we shift from our home to the land as the center of our creative ecofeminist efforts, we continue exploring practical and aesthetic sustainability through low-impact, yet beautiful agricultural design.

For us, ecofeminism necessarily integrates and embodies both theory and practice as a form of consciousness, a way of life, and a form of creative expression. With our house complete, we are able to engage in more contemplative activities and more focused artistic projects. The Reedy documentary is a natural progression of our commitment to ecofeminism as it seeks to tell a story about the artistic contributions of Frances Reedy on equal footing with her husband and the impact they had on regional heritage. Timi is in an especially unique position to tell Frances' her-story as her granddaughter and as a radical ecofeminist with deep Appalachian roots. 

Relationship Between Art and Social Change
Art can be a unifying force and language for individuals and communities to express their struggles, hopes, fantasies, and even nightmares. Art can be provocative as social commentary, and likewise oppression and injustice can provoke the creation of artwork and coalitions that challenge accepted behavior and model alternative possibilities. In the most general sense, art has been central to all great social development and movements throughout human history. 

As homesteaders, community activists, and cultural scholars, we consider all of these activities to be inextricably related in terms of holism, aestheticism, and social change. For us, grassroots organizing is an art-form that we try to embody in all aspects of our lives. Likewise, homesteading is both a practical and aesthetic form of activism as we attempt to model sustainable living that is modest, comfortable, and technologically innovative. As artists and cultural leaders, we consciously engage in communities that share a commitment to social change and the harnessing different forms of human creativity and expression as a tool for communication and community-building.  

Work Sample and Its Relationship to Feminism, Social Change and Proposed Activities
As Appalachian ecofeminists, we have focused most of our amateur filmmaking efforts on creating storytelling portraits of the people, culture, and geography that we call home. The Appalachia portrayed in the five short pieces on the DVD work sample is one in which ancestors are honored, relationships are celebrated, and contemporary technology is used creatively and responsibly. These pieces also reflect our ongoing commitment to and practice of ecofeminist principles of diversity, sustainability, and community.
Social Change Impact
This project is fundamental to both of our ecofeminist identities and personal struggles and development of consciousness. First and foremost, this project honors important ancestors, whether a direct family relationship between Timi and her Mamaw Frances or the broader relationship that we have with the Appalachian geography and culture we call home. The documentary will also serve as a direct commentary about the way in which Frances' contributions were less recognized and a reclamation of 'herstory' as an equal partner with her husband. Ultimately, this project will also engender feminist vindication through the act of unearthing, documenting, and declaring Appalachia's unsung legacy of Frances Reedy.
Another long-term goal is to broadcast the completed documentary as an educational and cultural production on public television as well as to submit it for consideration at various relevant film festivals. The project's ultimate impact is directly related to its engagement of a broad audience both within and beyond the region, and such distribution outlets would provide ample opportunity for public discourse and community empowerment. This process will also expand our own experience as community organizers as we convene conversations through a new outlet. We also hope to digitally-re-master an anthology of the Reedys’ music for professional production and re-release to a new generation.
On Friday, we had a conference call to KFW to discuss the reviewers' feedback in greater detail. Grant coordinator Rae Strobel was very helpful in identifying some areas where our production timeline and technical expertise could be strengthened. We also discussed a hopeful prospect for matching our funds to accomplish a key part of our original proposal. So I'll wait and provide more details as that opportunity unfolds...

In the meantime, we're incredibly grateful to be supported by a Kentucky-based feminist organization that recognizes the value of this project. Thanks to KFW for the amazing work they do to support feminist artists around the state! 

*The sections on feminism, art, and social change and their relationship to our project are excerpted from our KFW Artist Enrichment proposal.

(26 Jan. 10:44 am)

The 2009 KFW Artist Enrichment grant recipients have been posted to their website!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your grant! Looks like we might be moving there soon, finally! MUCH LOVE Mark & Josie